Dramatic goal lifts Westfield State to MASCAC women’s lacrosse title

Westfield State University captain Summer Zackaricz, Sam Donohoe and Sarah Stapleton display the 2021 MASCAC Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Trophy. (WESTFIELD STATE UNIVERSITY SPORTS PHOTO)

FRAMINGHAM – Westfield State first-year attacker Natalie DeMaio scored on a free position shot with five seconds left in regulation to lift Westfield State to a 14-13 win over Framingham State in the 2021 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s lacrosse championship game Saturday.
With the win, the Owls win their fourth-straight title, and will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Second-seeded Westfield (8-1) trailed 13-11 after an Alyssa Marino goal with 5:54 to play.
The Owls rallied with the final three goals of the game, first from Nicole Rinkus with 4:11 to play, then Megan Bailey gathered the rebound of a Rinkus free position shot that was saved and fired a high shot past Framingham netminder Hannah Allen to tie the game at 13-all.
Westfield’s Haley Mate’ stole the ball near midfield to set up the game-winning play. Mate had a shot deflected high that DeMaio gathered behind the net, and she rolled the left side of the fan with about 20 seconds remaining to draw a shooting space call and earn a free position shot.
Twice, DeMaio attacked the net and was fouled hard, and earned two subsequent free positions, the final one with just seven ticks remaining on the clock. DeMaio, near the center of the fan, took a few steps and fired a waist-high shot that found the back of the net for the game-winner. It was DeMaio’s fourth goal of the game and she earned MASCAC Tournament MVP honors.
The Owls downed the Rams in the league finals for the third straight time, and by a single, late goal on Maple Street field for the second time in a row.
Westfield fell behind 4-1 in the early going, but didn’t panic, trimming the lead down to 6-5 at the half.
The Rams got the first goal of the second half, 44 seconds in, from Jenna McMahon, but could never gain more than a two-goal advantage on the Owls.
Westfield took its first lead of the game, 8-7 on Sam Donohoe’s 100th career goal with 20:44 left in regulation.
Momentum hung in the pendulum throughout the second half which saw seven tie scores and three lead changes.
DeMaio led the Owls with four goals on the day. Donohoe added three goals and two assists. Rinkus added two goals, Cassidy Connolly had two goals and an assist and Cassidy Harvey added a goal and two assists. Lily Sears earned the win in goal for the Owls.
Framingham (8-2) was led by four goals from Marino, three from Tara Palermo, and two each from Regan Fein and Jenna McMahon. Allen made eight saves in goal.
OWLS DRAW WILLIAMS IN NCAA TOURNEY: Westfield State will face Roger Williams University in the first game of the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament. Roger Williams, 6-0, is an automatic qualifier as the champion of the CCC. The game will be played at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, on Sun., May 9 at 11:30 a.m. The Owls-Hawks matchup is a second-round game. The winner will advance to the May 15-16 regional round, which is also at Colby. Tufts University and Cabrini (Pa.) College are on the other half of the Owls bracket for a potential regional matchup.
Per Colby College and NCAA tournament policy and covid-19 protocols, no spectators will be permitted at this site. Games will be webstreamed. – Courtesy of Westfield State University Sports

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